I believe in not taking mom for granted. More specifically, I now believe in the sacredness of all those seemingly mundane acts of devotion she performed day in and day out through my childhood. Now, I’m embarrassed to confess that I’ve only recently come to believe her work is worthy of canonization. From the homemade green velvet jumper, to the vegetable soup made from corn and okra grown in the back yard, to the smell of Ajax in the freshly-scrubbed bathtub, and the nightly bedtime stories, everything about our taken-for-granted, dependable, but much-loved mother seemed ordinary. My brothers and sisters and I had dipped mom into a faded sepia tone while living the ultra-vivid lives of teenagers hanging out at the mall where girls cried in bathrooms over boys too young to know what to do. Motherhood seemed so well-trodden and cliched—an anticlimactic finish to a successful college career and professional life—until the day I became a mother myself. On a Friday night in June, a seven pound, four ounce baby boy taught me that what sometimes appears ordinary belongs to the highest of holiness and that which is glorified by society can be a hollow, false idol.
While running after good grades, cute boys, fun Saturday nights, foreign lands, and later a career, I lost sight of home and mom. I didn’t write her much, and she was lucky if she could catch me by phone at home on a Sunday afternoon. But since my son’s birth, memories of my own mother have flooded back in. While rocking my son one night, I suddenly remembered a winter afternoon when my mother was baking in the kitchen. The hallway emanated a cinnamon-honey warmth that penetrated time and space and beckoned me to enter. As I walked into the kitchen to see what she had baked for me, I was suspended in unconditional love cloaked as homemade oatmeal cookies. She spoke her love to me in food, clothing, and shelter—the only symbols my unformed mind could understand. Her sacred love could not be communicated through hired maids and nannies whose essence wouldn’t carry hers—no mercenaries of her love here. Every fresh bed sheet and warm meal was a vessel of her soul that whispered to mine, you are my most precious thing. You are a beloved soul. You are my daughter.
My son shows me the sacred every day, and I now humbly kneel at the foot of the mommy altar that also happens to hold an 8×10 glossy of my own mother on it. And even if my son takes me for granted the way I took my own mother, I will love him through every runny nose, load of laundry, and baked casserole because it is the language of a mother’s blessed love and devotion. I love you, mom. And sweet baby boy, I will love you the same way my mother loved me.